Israel’s Primer on How to Make the Palestinians Feel Fear

Dedicated to Jewish Israelis who travel to Palestinian music festivals in the West Bank, because they can, but are afraid of stone-throwing. And they speak English while they’re there.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Israeli soldiers patrolling near the West Bank city of Hebron, June 15, 2014.
Israeli soldiers patrolling near the West Bank city of Hebron, June 15, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

A list of the people’s daily fears under democratic Jewish military rule in the West Bank:

* That soldiers will descend from a pillbox armed to the teeth and fire at me. Or at my daughter, or my husband.

This happened in Silwad late last week. Ultra-Orthodox soldiers from the Kfir Battalion in the Nahal Brigade were extremely fearful for their lives and shot Iyad Hamed, 38, who was walking in his village in his home in the fields he knew from childhood. He wasn’t armed. He wasn’t throwing stones.

Residents of Silwad village attend the funeral of 38-year-old Palestinian Iyad Hamed, August 26, 2016. Credit: Abbas Momani / AFP

He was running, said the soldiers in their defense. After all, everyone knows that a running Palestinian is a suspicious Palestinian. And a suspicious Palestinian is a Palestinian who should be killed. And an armed soldier who killed a Palestinian walking on his land isn’t a murderer.

* That a soldier will fire at children coming home at night from a swimming pool and kill one and wound four. This happened at Beit Ur al-Tahta.

A couple from Ramallah and their teenage children were traveling via the Atara checkpoint north of Birzeit for a family visit. S. tells what happened: “The soldier stood at a distance and aimed his weapon at us. Once they would just approach and peer into the car.

“But here I was afraid of his ignorance and fear, and what these would make him do. From a distance, with his weapon aimed, he ordered us to get out of the car and sit on the ground. He called my son to come to him.

“The rifle was aimed, and I was scared. My son’s phone could ring and he’d put his hand in his pocket automatically, and the soldier could invent the excuse that he was afraid my son was pulling out a knife, so he killed him in self-defense. I moved, started to get up, and the soldier shouted: ‘Stay where you are, don’t move,’ with his rifled aimed.”

Blindfolded and bound

* That my nephew will go outside to exercise his right to protest when soldiers raid our refugee camp or our village, and a soldier armed to the teeth will fire at him and kill or cripple him (as happened in places including al-Fawwar and Kafr Qaddum).

* That they’ll confiscate more of our land for another security road to a settlement.

* That my son will drive my SUV to bring a friend back home, and on the way he’ll encounter a soldier who’ll fire at him and wound him. After all, they can report a lie to their commanders. (Daheisheh)

* That soldiers in a jeep will slap my son, still a minor, whom they’ve detained and blindfolded and bound his arms and legs. Then they’ll kick him. (Beit Omar)

* That they’re torturing my brother right now during an interrogation, his hands behind his back that has been bent for hours, preventing sleep in a filthy cell amid curses. (the Shin Bet security services facilities in Petah Tikva or Kishon Prison)

* That they’ll declare our land state land, and soon a settlement will be built there.

* That my daughter will be the only one in her class who won’t receive an Israeli permit to go on a trip to the beach because I’m a released prisoner, as happened to A. from the Nablus area.

* That at the Allenby crossing the Israelis will send me back and won’t let me travel with my friends on a trip to Kazakhstan, as happened to N. in her 50s.

* That at the Allenby crossing they won’t be satisfied with denying my husband permission to leave but will also put me in administrative detention detention without trial without an explanation, without a search and without an interrogation, as happened to Omar Nezal.

* That I’ll lose my job in Israel because they’ll take away my Israeli exit permit in an attempt to recruit me to the Shin Bet as an informer.

* That they won’t allow my 60-year-old father to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque because I was wounded. (Daheisheh)

* That a bulldozer will come escorted by soldiers, the Border Police and Civil Administration inspectors in a white jeep. Together they will destroy the tabun oven, the family tent, the trailer home donated by the European Union and the toilet donated by an aid organization. (Umm al-Khair)

The rifle scope and the bullet

* That a surveyor will come in preparation to expand a settlement, because of which they’ve already destroyed my tabun and now they’ll destroy the goat pen. (the Carmel settlement)

* That they’ll build another pillbox in order to guard the expanding outpost that was built on village land.

* That we’ll take the sheep to graze, and settlers will descend from the mountain and beat us, and the soldiers will stand aside. (the Maon Farm)

* That we’ll renovate the approach road to our fields and orchards, and the Civil Administration will stop the work in the middle. (Tekoa, Turmus Ayya, Duma)

* That we’ll be late to work again this morning because the soldiers at the checkpoint stopped the traffic from Ramallah so that the settlers heading from Ofra and Beit El can get to work on time. (Geva-Adam Junction)

* That my husband will have an appointment for an operation in East Jerusalem, because he suffers from heart disease, but we won’t get a permit to leave Gaza. (As happened to my friend A., or as our mutual friend F. in his mid-50s says: “My greatest fear is that one of us will fall ill and I won’t be able to give him or her the best possible treatment, because we won’t get an exit permit from Gaza.”)

* That a soldier on a surprise patrol in the neighborhood will say he was afraid and killed me. And that all the other soldiers think that the cure for fear is the rifle scope and the bullet; a finger on the trigger and bingo.

* That the world won’t be interested in all this, and only when a Palestinian kills a Jew and a rocket is launched from Gaza will Angela Merkel and Barack Obama denounce terror.

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